Paul Durham, author of the Luck Uglies series, masterfully draws readers into his new book, The Last Gargoyle, with a cryptic first chapter that ends with a disturbing question: “What goes bump in the night? If you’re lucky, I do.”
And so we are introduced to Penhallow, the last gargoyle, whose mission is to tirelessly watch over his domain—the aged Boston apartment building on which he’s perched—and to protect its residents from all things dangerous and evil. Penhallow has scant memory of being anything but a block of stone with wings, claws and eyes that gleam with the light of life. He can shape-shift at will—at times assuming the form of a humanlike wisp in jeans and hoodie, other times becoming a teeth-gnashing, Netherkin-eating monster.
The city Penhallow inhabits churns with hostile energy. Penhallow can sense it, but he doesn’t know how to vanquish it. He can handle the Netherkins one or two at a time, but when he discovers he is up against the ruler of the underworld, the evil Boneless King, it will take all his strength—and the help of a new friend—to defeat him.
A tale of love, life, evil and death seems heady stuff for young readers, but they will relish it as fully as Penhallow relishes swallowing imps and Netherkins.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.